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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mapping the Edge

by Sarah Dunant

I love the title of this book, Mapping the Edge - it suggests travel, boundaries, being on the edge, taking the next step, learning something new about yourself - your life, your loves, your needs, your desires.  The title could fit so many different stories and I was anxious to know the one told in this book.  And isn't the cover lovely?

I found myself more than a little confused for the first half of the book.  At one point (around page 60) I was thinking of setting it aside but I'm glad I kept reading.  I love a book that pushes the boundaries of a traditionally written, linear novel.   

Mapping the Edge covers a period of only a few days but it switches narrators.  One of the 3 story lines is told by the disappearing woman's best friend so it has a personal, thoughtful perspective.  The other 2 story lines are told from the 3rd person point of view and provide the reader with an ever expanding view of 2 possible scenarios as to why Anna didn't show up at home when she was expected.

I love a book that shouts at me to pick it up and to keep reading.  The questions whirring around and needing to be answered kept me reading.  Each of the possible disappearance scenarios served up a couple of  interesting twists that added increased interest.  I'd like to say that the ending answered all my questions, but it didn't.  I closed the book thinking that everything had been resolved completely, but after a day I think the ending was as it should be.

I loved this book but I won't be suggesting it for my f2f book club.  I can just see the looks, the same ones I got at the discussion for The History of Love.   One lady said I had a weird taste in books and wasn't I the one who also recommended The Poisonwood Bible?  Add this one to the list and I'd probably get booted out.  That doesn't mean I'm not recommending it to my blog readers.  Just remember that you may need to push yourself beyond the first 60-80 pages.  After that I think you'll get pulled in and swept along with the story.

One passage out of several that I book darted:
I've become more aware of time passing recently.  Not the day-to-dayness of it, but the bigger, structural stuff.  Sometimes I have a sense of great chunks of my life floating, like space debris, in slow motion around me:  three- or four-year bits that have got detached from the space station and can't be recovered.  There goes twenty-two to twenty-six, passing so close I can almost touch it.  Then a little further off I see my late twenties/early thrities turning over and over in zero gravity.  Maybe I should reel it in and work a little revisionism on it.  But then I think, Why bother?  It's done already, over, all the possibilities hardened into choices, of no interest now except as history. 

20 comments:

Hannah Stoneham said...

Interesting - thank you for sharing your insightful review.

I like the idea of the narrative switching and the short time frame - that can work quite well if well written. You have motivated me to give this a go - thank you!

Hannah

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I haven't heard of this Dunant novel- thanks for the review!

Aarti said...

I didn't know that Dunant had another book out- this sounds really interesting. And I completely agree about the cover!

Lesley said...

I had to laugh at the bit about your book club selections! I feel the same way about some of my picks. Sadly, even in book clubs, many people don't like to go outside their comfort zone.

This sounds like a very interesting book, though - thanks for the heads up!

Diane said...

This sounds lie a great book; I liked Sacred Hearts a lot.

Susan said...

This is our April book club book and I just finished it today. The funny thing is that I picked it up yesterday and had to take this afternoon off from work so I could finish it. I was that enthralled.

I was confused by Anna's dual scenarios at first, but once I figured out what was happening, it totally intrigued me. Also, as Estella's portion was written in first person, while Anna's was in third person, I began to wonder if either of Anna's scenarios were real or if they were actually Estella's imagining what could have happened.

Made me think a lot about the nature of what family consists of and how women sometimes give up their self-ness when they become mothers and the lengths we will go to to preserve that self-ness.

PS Our bookclub also read Poisenwood Bible, and while I thought Kingsolver was quite preachy in it, it was a rounding success when we read it.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one sounds interesting. I just don't think I would be able to get into it though. Love the honest review!

Zibilee said...

This book sounds really intriguing and since I have loved everything I have read by this author, I am seriously considering giving this one a go. I loved your review and got a kick out of your book club confession as well!

heidenkind said...

That's probably a good call--how can they not appreciate The Poisonwood Bible?

Shelley said...

That meditation on the passage of time gave me a bit of a chill....It's hard to think of anything scarier than that. In a way, all of literature is a response to it.

teabird said...

"possibilities hardened into choices" - what a powerful and gritty phrase. I think this would be my kind of book (as was Poisonwood Bible, despite preachiness).

Mystica said...

Ive read only one Sarah Dunant and thanks for highlighting this one.

Kailana said...

I have read only one Dunant so far. I look forward to giving this one a try eventually, though.

Les said...

I haven't read anything by Dunant, but I think I have The Birth of Venus somewhere around here. I don't mind wading through a slow beginning as long as I know it's worthwhile. I love The Poisonwood Bible (although the last chapter or two could've been omitted) and I have The History of Love in my stacks. I'll keep an eye out for this one. Lovely title AND cover.

Utah Mom said...

Who doesn't love The Poisonwood Bible? This sounds interesting. I'll have to add it to my to-read list.

dolcebellezza said...

That comment's hilarious ("Weren't you the one who recommended Poisonwood Bible?") like we need to be recriminated for what we've suggested. I have this book, Mapping The Edge, but for some reason I haven't read it yet. I'll take your warnings on as advice, and get back to you when I do. The cover alone looked alluring to me, which I guess is a big part of why I bought it.

Tamara said...

I've not ready any of this authors work - but my non reading partner read PWB with few distractions. Your review of this one sounds like it will also be a good holiday read.. I'll keep my eye open for it.

Priya Parmar said...

i did not realize she had another book out. i love your choices of books!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This is a good looking book! I have another book on my shelf by this author.

Tamara said...

I recently saw this in the bookshop and wondered if I could enjoy it. Thanks for your review - I think I'll go back for it now. Since this review was posted in March - where are you now?